UCLA School of Law professor E. Tendayi Achiume has been named by the Human Rights Council of the United Nations to be Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.
Achiume is the first woman and first person from southern Africa to serve in the role, which was created in 1993.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the UN made the announcement on Sept. 29, and Achiume, an assistant professor at UCLA Law, assumes her duties on Nov. 1. She will continue to teach and conduct research as a member of the law school faculty during her tenure for the UN.
The special rapporteur is an independent human rights expert appointed by the UN’s Human Rights Council to call attention to the most pressing problems of racial, ethnic and xenophobic discrimination and systemic intolerance around the world. The special rapporteur conducts fact-finding visits, works directly with nations to effect change, and submits periodic reports to the Human Rights Council. It is also a platform for interdisciplinary research and the exchange of knowledge on how to best implement global anti-racism standards.
Achiume, who was born in Zambia and raised in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana, brings to the position deep experience in international human rights, especially relating to discrimination and intolerance. She is the author of several academic publications specifically on racial and xenophobic discrimination, and was appointed co-chair of the annual meeting of the American Society of International Law in 2016. She is also a research associate with the African Centre for Migration and Society at South Africa’s University of Witwatersrand, where she previously taught on the faculty of the International Human Rights Exchange Programme.
“The special rapporteur plays a critical role in raising global awareness as to the nature and prevalence of contemporary forms of discrimination and intolerance, and the need for independent and reliable fact-finding and reporting has never been more urgent,” Achiume said. “I am committed to a global human rights framework that is truly responsive to the lived experiences of people everywhere.”
Achiume’s experience also includes clerkships on the Constitutional Court of South Africa, the nation’s highest court; a Bernstein International Human Rights Fellowship with the Refugee and Migrant Rights Project unit at Lawyers for Human Rights in Johannesburg; and work as a litigation associate at Sullivan & Cromwell in New York. She holds a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from Yale Law School, where she was managing editor of submissions for the Yale Journal of International Law and a recipient of the Fox International Fellowship and the Howard M. Holtzmann Fellowship in International Arbitration and Dispute Resolution.
Achiume joined UCLA Law in 2014 as a Binder Clinical Teaching fellow. She teaches property law, Third World Approaches to International Law, and the International Human Rights Clinic. She is a member of the core faculty of UCLA Law’s Promise Institute for Human Rights, Critical Race Studies program and David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy.